Ref: IMD-6-0328

Case study

Reference: IMD-6-0328

Order this case study

Unilever Tea (B): Going beyond the low-hanging fruits

Ralf W. Seifert

By Professor Ralf W. SeifertRalf W. Seifert, Tania Braga, Heidi Strebel and Aileen Ionescu-Somers

The case follows Unilever along the implementation of its efforts to source all the tea in Lipton, PG Tips and Lyons teabags sold in Western Europe from Rainforest Alliance Certified (TM) farms.

The case starts by looking at the roll-out of certification in large tea estates and then explores Unilever efforts to reach out to smallholders in Kenya and Argentina. It shadows Unilever next challenge; face a surge in the demand for certified tea to come on the aftermath of the decision of its major competitors to also supply their major brands from Rainforest Alliance Certified farms.

Learning Objective

  • Understand the business case for major brands to convert to sustainable sourcing.
  • Understand the challenges of aligning suppliers behind a major market transformation effort.
  • Illustrate the dilemmas of adapting to a changing business context while staying on course with long-term objectives.
  • Change the traditional perception of business responsibility in pushing forward the agenda for action on sustainable agriculture and other “mega-issues.”
Keywords Brand Development, Operations Management, Production Management, Sustainability Certification, Sustainable Agriculture, Tea
Settings Global
Type Field Research
Copyright ©2011
Language English
Related material Teaching note, Video
Order this case study

Reference: IMD-6-0328

IMD case studies are distributed through case clearing houses. In order to browse the collection and purchase copies please visit the links below.

The Case Centre, UK Office

Cranfield University

Wharley End Beds MK43 0JR, UK
Tel +44 (0)1234 750903
Fax +44 (0)1234 751125
Email [email protected]

The Case Centre, US office

Babson College

Babson Park, Wellesley MA 02457, USA
Tel +1 781 239 5884
Fax +1 781 239 5885
Email [email protected]

Harvard Business School Publishing

60 Harvard Way, Boston MA 02163, USA
Tel (800) 545-7685 Tel (617)-783-7600
Fax (617) 783-7666
Email [email protected]

Asia Pacific Case Center

NUCB Business School

1-3-1 Nishiki Naka
Nagoya Aichi, Japan 460-0003
Tel +81 52 20 38 111
Email [email protected]

Copyright information

IMD retains all proprietary interests in its case studies and notes. Without prior written permission, IMD cases and notes may not be reproduced, used, translated, included in books or other publications, distributed in any form or by any means, stored in a database or in other retrieval systems. For additional copyright information related to case studies, please contact Case Services.


Research Information & Knowledge Hub for additional information on IMD publications

Case study

Reference: IMD-6-0328

Order this case study
Looking for something specific?

Keep reading